Mike Stevens | Jan 25, 2010

Telstra has found that almost a third of Australian motorists are reading and sending SMS messages while driving.

Around 31 percent of male respondents admitted their driving has been affected by texting, compared to 36 percent of women.

The alarming figures, up from 17 percent in 2004, come despite 96 percent of motorists acknowledging that it is illegal to read or send an SMS while driving.

"Staggeringly, almost a quarter of Australian motorists are knowingly breaking the law by using their mobiles to make handheld calls, with 25-34 year olds the worst offenders," Telstra's Jenny Young said.

Ms Young added that 17 to 24 year olds are the second most likely to break the law by using their handset when driving.

Texting isn't the only danger though, with some 30 percent of respondents admitting to speaking for one or two minutes on their handset while driving.

Around 46 percent of women admitted to having short phone conversations while driving, compared to 28 percent of men.

The report, which surveyed 1014 Australian motorists, also found - somewhat strangely - that only seven percent of road users are aware of when it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Surely not... but there you have it.

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